Riding The Emotions With Your Child
Never before have we experienced anything like this! Lock-down continues! The days and weeks are endless. You may ask…What week is this? Actually, what day is this?
As adults we have days and times when we feel are handling this well, then, often quite out of the blue, it hits us and we aren’t alright at all. It may pass quickly, or it may last a while. A tsunami of emotions flooding in!
We have life experience; we have years of experiencing different emotions; we can recognise them; we can name them; we generally know how to deal with them…and yet in this time we may struggle.
Imagine then how your child will be feeling. They haven’t had years of experience of handling emotions; they may not even be able to recognise or name these emotions never mind deal with the roller-coaster they are experiencing.
As the novelty of missing school and staying at home wears off, your child will be missing their routine; missing the structure of school, their teacher and friends, the clubs they attend, physical contact with your extended family…
WORKING WITH YOUR TSUNAMI
How you are feeling at any particular moment will impact enormously with how you are able to deal with and support your child. Noticing and acknowledging how you are, without trying to suppress or change it, enables you to make informed choices about your needs and self-care. It is not selfish to look after yourself, it is essential.
Regularly throughout the day…PAUSE…WAIT…take a moment to understanding how you are feeling and what you are thinking. What do you need to do for you? Remember the oxygen mask on the airplane - unless you have your own mask and oxygen first, you can’t look after anyone else!
WHEN THE TSUNAMI MEETS THE ROLLER-COASTER
When you are aware of your own tsunami and take the time to look after it and calm it, you are less driven by frustration or automatic behaviour when your child is freewheeling along on their roller-coaster.
Press ‘pause’ so you don’t react immediately, and take the time to see what is happening, to begin to understand. What is happening in my child’s inner world right now? What are they thinking about? See it from your child’s point of view.
Understanding and accepting how your child is feeling in this moment in time is not the same as thinking ‘I have to put up with everything’. It is both you and them acknowledging and validating their feelings and thoughts and then helping them to find a way to deal effectively with them.
THEIR GREATEST TEACHER
Remember you are your child’s greatest teacher! Despite whatever you may think or they may say about their school teacher, YOU are their greatest teacher…their role-model…their example. The messages you give to your child, explicitly or implicitly, will influence them for life. Be present with them, show them patience and acceptance.
Once the roller-coaster has stopped spend time with your child to understand how they are feeling, recognise different emotions and how these affect them and then find ways together that support them effectively in dealing with those emotions. Bring a playful and relaxed atmosphere to this and have fun.
Letting your child see that you experience different emotions can help normalise this for them, giving them the message that ‘It’s okay to feel like this’. Talking through, at an age-appropriate level, about the different emotions you are feeling, the worry and sadness, maybe even periods of anger, explaining how these emotions feel and asking your child what these emotions feel like too.
These open, unprejudiced moments will build your child’s understanding and acceptance of themselves, and give them the skills to self-regulate which are lifelong foundations for well-being.